Still Wakes the Deep is a modern horror classic


Don’t look down. Don’t look down. Don’t look down.

Waves the size of skyscrapers explode beneath me as I creep across a busted metal beam in the middle of the North Sea, suspended at the base of an oil rig that’s in the process of collapsing. I’m crawling swiftly but carefully, knees sliding on the wet metal and eyes locked on the platform in front of me. Don’t look down.

I look down. The cold sea is boiling just inches from my beam, white spray reaching up, threatening to pull me under miles of suffocating darkness and pressure. Fuck.

Still Wakes the Deep
The Chinese Room

In Still Wakes the Deep, horror comes in multiple forms. Violent creatures stalk the walkways on thin, too-long limbs that burst from their bodies like snapping bungee cords. Human-sized pustules and bloody ribbons grow along the corridors, emitting a sickly cosmic glow. The ocean is an unrelenting threat, wailing beneath every step. And then there’s the Beira D oil rig itself, a massive and mazelike industrial platform supported by slender tension legs in the middle of a raging sea, groaning and tilting as it’s ripped apart from the inside. Each of these elements is deadly; each one manifests a unique brand of terror.

Still Wakes the Deep is a first-person horror game from The Chinese Room, the studio behind Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. The game is set in the winter of 1975 and its action is contained to the Beira D, a hulking metal maze that offers mystery, a growing familiarity and death at every turn. The rig is filled with a rich cast of characters from the British Isles, most of them Scottish. Players assume the role of Caz, an electrician on the rig whose best friend is Roy, the cook.

Still Wakes the Deep
The Chinese Room

Still Wakes the Deep feels like a hit from the PS3 and Xbox 360 era, devoid of modern AAA bloat. It’s restrained like the original Dead Space, with a core loop that serves the narrative and vice versa. The mechanics steadily evolve without becoming repetitive or cumbersome. Its monsters are murderous but not overplayed. In Still Wakes the Deep, the horror is unrelenting but its source is constantly shifting — vicious eldritch beasts, the crumbling rig, the angry North Sea — and this diversity infuses the game with a buzzing tension until the breathtaking final scene.

The game is fully voice acted and its crew members are incredibly charming. An undercurrent of good-natured ribbing belies every interaction, and the dialogue is earnest and legitimately funny, even in life-or-death situations. This skillful sense of character development only makes the carnage more disturbing once the monsters board the Beira D.

After the oil rig drills through a mysterious substance deep in the North Sea, a giant eldritch organism takes over the structure, crunching its metal corridors and infesting the bodies of some crew members. Caz is on a mission to survive the creatures and escape the rig — and help save Roy, whose body is fading fast because he can’t get to his insulin.

Still Wakes the Deep
The Chinese Room

Gameplay in Still Wakes the Deep is classic first-person horror fare, executed with elegance and expertise. The action involves leaping across broken platforms, balancing on thin ledges, running down corridors, climbing ladders, swimming through claustrophobic holes and hiding from monsters in vents and lockers. There are no guns on the Beira D, and Caz has just a screwdriver to help him break open locks and unscrew metal panels, placing the focus on pure survival rather than combat. Interactive materials tend to be highlighted in yellow, so it’s never a question of what to do or where to go, but rather how to get there without falling prey to the monsters, the sea or the rig.

Each input feels perfectly precise and responsive. Climbing a ladder, for instance, requires holding RT and pressing the analog stick in the proper direction — but if Caz slips, players need to suddenly press and hold LT as well, so he can regain his grasp in a quicktime event. In these moments of sudden panic, squeezing both triggers feels like the natural thing to do. It’s deeply satisfying to clasp the gamepad as tightly as Caz is holding the rungs of the ladder, player and character completely in sync in the aftermath of a sudden scare. Still Wakes the Deep is a prime example of intuitive game design.

Still Wakes the Deep
The Chinese Room

It’s also just a gorgeous game. I stopped short multiple times while playing Still Wakes the Deep simply to admire the crisp lines, complex lighting and photorealism of specific scenes, but every frame is dense with thoughtful and well-rendered details. The otherworldly structures littering the rig cause Caz’s vision to bubble like a melting film reel, and multicolored circles overtake the screen every time he passes too close to a pustule — it’s disorienting and eerily pretty, much like the rest of the game.

Still Wakes the Deep is a modern horror classic. It’s filled with heart-pounding terror and laugh-out-loud dialogue, and it all takes place in a setting that’s rarely explored in interactive media. Amid the sneaking, swimming, running and climbing on the Beira D, Still Wakes the Deep manages to tell a heartfelt and powerful story about relationships and sacrifice. Caz and Roy have a special friendship, but they also have family back on shore and returning to these people — alive, ideally — is a constant driving force.

Still Wakes the Deep
The Chinese Room

Still Wakes the Deep is available now on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, and it’s included in Game Pass. It’s developed by The Chinese Room and published by Secret Mode.



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